The other day I was on my way to volunteer for Ronald McDonald House, as a friend had asked me to help out--wonderful for my soul--but on the way there I was of course fretting. Fretting over my life, job, finances, making sure my sis is okay now that she's here, and wondering if I could indeed make it here.
I happened to be watching the cityscape pass me by and I looked up at a billboard for a storage company that said, "If you can make it here, you probably should." And maybe I am someone who always needs a good sign or can simply take some handy advertising and plug it right where I want it in my own life, but that billboard was exactly what I needed to see that day, of course along with meeting a wee little Irish lass (among other darlings) who prompted me to help her make the world's largest hopscotch game--done--while she cursed us running out of chalk.
I loved her and found that I also have a new love of hopscotch. Maybe it's because I can only recall ever playing it once as a child and then I think my weight started to inhibit me from hopping around to and fro, like I was carefree. I also stopped attempting cartwheels. Note to self--try those again.
Along with being a gal who thoroughly eats up a good sign, I also devour a good mantra. And so it was that I started feverishly repeating to myself that if I can make it here, I probably should. I owed myself that much after buying the one-way ticket and losing hair left and right with stress. Or okay, I probably lost some hair because I bleached it and then dyed it pink, but I am prone to theatrics so saying it's from stress makes me sound like a real tortured soul, no?
Of course it would take another sign for it to really sink in that I can't give way to my rampant fears and run for the woods. My go-to for any sort of panic about my life is to rashly contemplate the most dramatic exit strategy I can conjure.
I started thinking maybe I would go stay at my family's camp for a year and force myself to finish my novel. And since I sold my car it would be very Walden-esque. I would chop wood for the sauna. Get very meditative and find myself. Plant a garden. And in the winter I would walk the 20 some miles into town for food because it would double as my workout. Then I remembered U.P. winters and frowned thinking I very well could freeze to death on the side of the highway before I made it to town.
Wilderness hiatus was out. I next wondered if I could hitchhike out West. Before imaginary me had even gotten as far as Pennsylvania I realized to hitchhike I would only have to take essentials, like one bag. And all of a sudden I was aghast. I came to New York with four behemoth overflowing bags, which has already doubled.
Ok. And if I were honest with myself, I realized, even if I hoofed it to the mountains I would still have to face my fears. I would still have to finish my novel. And I would still be scared shitless when talking to editors.
The location could change all it wanted, but I knew I wouldn't change. So as scared as I was and have been, I decided to man up and get cracking on my novel again. I hadn't gotten that far in the editing process when I happened on a chapter I wrote over a year ago, back when I was living in Wisconsin. I was of course writing about my longing to get to New York (surreal) and lose weight (doubly so) and how I knew if I didn't start practicing the whole happiness bit as I was, then it wouldn't just happen when I was thinner and in New York, but I wrote as a side note that who could ever be unhappy in New York and that's when I stopped reading.
I was dumbfounded.
There have been a lot of stipulations I have put on my happiness in life. By the time I got my first boyfriend at twenty-three I was convinced that was the missing piece to my happiness puzzle. It wasn't. I was more miserable with him than I'd been single. Big lesson, but I moved forward feeling better knowing that a boyfriend wasn't a key ingredient in the recipe for happiness.
And then reading this little excerpt from my past saying how I'd be happier once I lost weight and made it to New York? Uh-oh. And yes, I am incredibly happy having lost weight and actually gotten here, but understand this: for weeks I have been putting stipulations on my happiness, again.
Oh you'll be happy once you get a writing job
Or sell your book
Or finish your marathon and have a killer runner's physique
I have been putting the kibosh on my happiness and is it any wonder that I am fretting all day, everyday, am surprised when I actually bask in the city, and most nights do not fall asleep until at least three a.m. because my mind will not shut down.
And even though I am in the greatest city in the world, without a doubt it is, life isn't perfect. No one is happy all the time, because life throws you curve-balls and change is without a doubt stressful, so yeah, just because this is the greatest city in the world, it doesn't excuse me from normal human woes, but it's a problem when I am drowning in them. And that's what I have been doing.
I have been more and more prone to wanting to throw myself to the floor of my apartment, lay in the fetal position and cry. And that is a problem.
It's a problem because I have felt myself losing hope. And I am not someone who deals well with hopelessness. I always need hope, even if just a glimmer.
Naturally seeing that billboard rekindled something in my spirit. So I started fighting. Then, reading that blast from my past shocked me into awareness. I blessed needed to stop putting stipulations on when I was allowed to be happy. That was not okay.
So I woke up the next day and went to my Crossfit gym. And running in the rain with a twenty pound sandbag on my shoulders reminded me of the ranch and how every time I challenged my body, my mind got stronger.
I walked back to the subway after my workout, thoroughly soaked with sweat and more rain and didn't care that I looked like hell. I felt like Rocky and I knew I could see my hope on the horizon, finding her way back to me.
Kirst and I made our way to the Upper West Side that night because I wanted to check out Zabar's and we found an amazing bookstore, my nirvana of course and as I touched the spines on many a book, I felt my hope getting stronger. I all of a sudden wanted to be in a musical, so that my epiphany could be accompanied by song, while I wheeled down the ladders attached to the shelves and sang about being on my way. Instead I bought a book with my last ten dollars that was supposed to be for a can opener and laundry.
But books make me happier.
And when I walked into Central Park at dusk, I started to get a little weepy and shaky. Kirst asked if I was about to cry. I told her no and locked it up, but turned to her and said,
"Can you believe it? We did it. We're really here."
And she smiled at me, with what looked like relief. I think my loss of hope had started to worry her.
I told her I spent my last ten on the book. But that it didn't matter. Because I was going to be a best-seller soon and then I could buy all the books I wanted.
And guess what?
I believed my statement. If I can make it here, I probably should.